Daily Israel Report

Tent Protest Collapsing?

Numerous voices in the press say that the protest that rocked the nation is about to die.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/29/2011, 11:16 AM

Tent city protester with laptop
Tent city protester with laptop
Flash 90

An increasingly large number of voices in the Israeli press are saying that the tent protest against the government's social-economic policies is dying.

The number of demonstrators in last Saturday night's protests was considerably smaller than on previous Saturday nights this summer, although Israel Radio tried to make the number seems like a large one. 

Liberal television show anchors like Yonit Levy and Oshrat Kotler, who were obviously elated by the protests throughout the summer, were visibly despondent. 

Relatively conservative writers, by liberal Israeli standards, like Ben-Dror Yemini and writers of "The Daily Capitalist" in Maariv repeatedly tore into the protests and noted that even if they did start out spontaneously, they were quickly hijacked by radical leftist elements. Anti-protest  voices like Kobi Arieli's, which were a small minority at first, now appear to be in the majority.

A news conference held by the tent protest leaders last week devolved into a squabble on live video, with some of the local leaders accusing the national leadership of hogging attention and making decisions on their own.

Channel 10, considered by some an even greater bastion of leftism than Channel 2, interviewed Daphni Leef, the most prominent leader of the "revolution," and asked her some tough questions that had not been asked in the previous weeks' coddling interviews. 

The interviewer noted that she had grown up in the affluent Jerusalem neighborhood of Rechavia, next to the Prime Minister's residence, and then moved to Kfar Shemaryahu, possibly Israel's most highbrow neighborhood. He asked her if she is the right person to lead a protest on socio-economic injustice. He also noted that she had not served in the military or in alternative National Service, and asked if she had spent the night at the main Tel Aviv protest encampment recently.

Leef admitted she had not slept in the tents in recent days. She said that she had received exemption from military service because of epilepsy, and that she has volunteered extensively in other programs. She then walked out of the interview as the cameras were rolling. 

Leef's call for the resignation of the head of the committee appointed by the Prime Minister to address the social protest caused considerable ire in her own camp, where other leaders said they were not consulted about the move. 

The committee is dealing with suggestions for alleviating social welfare issues that affect those below the poverty line in Israel as well as that portion of the middle class that feels the crunch of taxes and high food and housing prices. It is enjoined to be careful not to endanger Israels excellent world economic position with suggestions that signigicantly increase the national debt.

Popular news site Ynet, which had functioned as a PR spin machine for the protest all summer long, keeping it in its top headlines for most of July and August, has featured very few articles on it in the past week.

Next Saturday night, the protesters intend to hold what they call "a million-man protest." If they fail to bring out hundreds of thousands of protesters, the demonstration may become their Waterloo.